The stigma that French cars are expensive to own and run is dead and buried, says Renault Australia, which now offers superior aftersales care to many better-known Japanese brands.
Since 2010, Renault Australia has spent millions of dollars upgrading its dealer network, and pouring money from its steadily increasing sales (up six-fold since 2010, peaking at 11,500 units last year) into the back end of its business.
“It’s fundamental to setting up our longer-term success,” said Renault Australia managing director Justin Hocevar, speaking to us this week at the local launch of the new Megane (review going live this Friday).
“Over the last few years we’ve gone through a period where the Aussie dollar was really favourable to invest in the front end of the business, and we’ve seen some brands do that, and they’ve got some good [sales] growth over the period.
“We wanted to have a balanced approach… we invested during that time in a really strong warranty program, capped-price servicing, approved used vehicle program, captive finance and insurance, a highly competitive parts process, investing in dealers and training staff, to put an apprenticeship program in place…”
All Renault passenger cars (including RS models) get a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty that betters the terms offered by Mazda and Toyota, though the commercial vehicles make do with a three-year/200,000km term.
Renault also gives you full roadside assistance around the clock for the warranty term, and has capped-price servicing set at $299 (passenger) and $349 (commercial) per visit for the first three visits.
While these figures are pricier than some mainstream brands, the service intervals are generally superior, at 12 months and, in the case of the new-generation Koleos and Megane, up to 30,000km (a figure that’s variable, depending on driving style/conditions).
Renault also uses partner Nissan for its supply chain logistics, making parts basket prices competitive against larger-scale rivals, and superior to some.
Meanwhile, Renault’s dealer network now comprises of 55 sites nationally, and will grow to 58 by the end of 2016. This means that it’s easier to find support and help should you need it. Industry data suggests it covers 90 per cent of the population.
The company also offers a captive finance program that often campaigns with zero per cent interest rates, and an approved used car scheme to reinforce resale value gains — though this is still an area where it often isn’t as strong as more established marques.
“I’ll put it this way,” said Hocevar. “There’s kind of a ‘team Japan’ from an engineering point-of-view, a ‘team Germany’, that exists in the minds of Australian consumers, and French auto hasn't done a good job of endearing itself in the Australian market in that way.
“We know it takes time, those stigmas were there, but they're myths now,” he added.
Have you held back from buying a Renault because of concerns over French ownership costs and reliability?